Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nanotechnology Culture War?

An interesting new study of public opinion regarding nanotechnology finds that broad political attitudes make a great deal of difference in how the tech is perceived. Put simply, those who are pro-business see opportunity, while those concerned about economic inequality are more apt to see it as dangerous.

I see little mystery here, or much reason for surprise in the findings. We are long past the point where people imagine technology is likely to fix the world or correct its injustices all by itself. Certainly there are technologies about which the left is more enthusiastic than the right (like renewable energy production from wind, solar and other such sources), but all other things being equal, those who lean left, given the experience of the last few decades (if not longer), have plenty of reason to doubt the likely outcome of such developments-not only in their implications for social justice, but ecology as well. Those who lean right (at least, on matters of commerce and science), being rather more sanguine about the social order, are more optimistic.

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